Avalanche – Snippet 06
“Okay, I am cutting out of this conversation. Good luck, Parker, Senor Presidente.” With a flick of a key, Vickie cut her connection to the negotiations going on…somewhere in the air.
Sera looked from Vickie to John in bewilderment. “What has just occurred?” she asked.
“Security for the Metisians, with any luck. Just gotta hope that none of the other governments out there get shit-scared an’ try to brazen through gettin’ some of eggheads. I don’t think it’ll happen, but it’ll be up to Bella an’ Spin Doctor to calm those waters.” John grinned, his eyes flitting back and forth as he was thinking about the possibilities that this new arrangement had opened.
“And Saviour, and Pride. They’re all up on international diplomacy–and none. And Saviour is sneaky. She’ll point out all the ways kidnappings could happen and we’ll get the Metisians to safe-harbours once they have their papers,” said Vickie, looking wilted, and exhausted, but no longer in despair.
“Still, what is this…’Operation Paperclip’?” Sera looked back to John.
“Grab by the US government an’ some cloak an’ dagger types to get as many Nazi scientists after WWII before the Soviets could snag ’em. Big operation to white-wash their pasts, get them US citizenship, and bring them over here. It was all done to side-step a law that said we couldn’t have anybody associated with the Nazi party doin’ work for us, essentially.”
“That was what Eight-Ball was trying to show us. That this was what was going to happen unless we got them some other kind of citizenship to protect them,” Vicke added, patting Eight-Ball’s keyboard. “Then he showed us that they actually, already had citizenship. Metis was hidden in the Peruvian Andes, and has been since….geez, I dunno, the 1920s at least. So every Metisian we saved was certainly born there, born on Peruvian soil. We just had to make that absolutely official. Best way to do that was cut straight to the top and talk to El Presidente.” She spread her hands wide. “Now every country on the planet that wants Metisian tech is going to have to talk to Peru. And every country on the planet has a vested interest in protecting Peru–from Thulians, and everything else.”
“Eight-Ball is a pretty handy little toy, Vic. You an’ Bella have done good. Try to relax until we hear back from the blueberry. I’m sure that there’ll be plenty to do once we have the little details ironed out. Best to try to figure out probable landing sites, now, so we can plot out the best way to get our birds down without too many people takin’ notice.”
“Roger that.” She turned back to her keyboard. “Overwatch: Open: All Metis craft. Open: Private: Bella.”
It’s still FUBAR. But maybe we can dig our way out, after all. Thank god for the firebombs…if they hadn’t been here…. She didn’t finish that thought, because at that point El Presidente and Bella had their plan.
Within twenty-four hours, Vickie and Bella had done the impossible; registered all of the surviving Metisians as Peruvian citizens with appropriate paperwork and passports, and gotten them all into (scattered) hiding places. John, all too well aware of how slowly the wheels of bureaucracy ground, could only marvel. That miracle alone would have made him a believer in the Infinite.
So now…they were waiting. He and Sera most particularly. Waiting for the next Thulian move on the shattered chessboard. Some shadow of that brief look at the futures told him it was going to be bad.
Everyone was on high alert back at HQ. Battening down the hatches, as it were. Preparing to mobilize and move out–again. They were still nursing their wounds from Ultima Thule, and now the fall of Metis. And in deep mourning for Molotok….he and Sera had quietly discussed what they had inadvertently learned, and had agreed they would not tell the Commissar of the depth of Moji’s feelings for her now. If ever. She was already devastated; the revelation that he had been deeply in love with her would probably destroy her. After the war is over. If it ever is. If we survive it. Somehow, deciding to put the revelation off made him feel more relieved than guilty. Usually keeping a secret had the opposite effect; he’d rather rip the band-aid off and be done with it, then let things fester beneath the surface. But this situation…was more delicate than that. Given the Commissar’s distrust of him, not only as an American, but now as…well, whatever he and Sera were, holding off on telling her about Moji was probably the wisest course of action.
Yet the attack, when it came, surprised even John and Sera.
They were both still guarding Vickie. They had put in their time at HQ, helping with preparations and readying everything in case they had to move out to defend the city, or go on the attack elsewhere. There was an air of anticipation everywhere. “If the Thulians had hit Metis with such a large force, how long until they moved that force into the surrounding area?” More questions, like how had they even managed to get that many troops and that much war material to Metis undetected. Where had they gone after? By what few probes or sensors remained, the Thulians had wiped Metis off the map, and then…disappeared. Hardly anything stood where Metis had been; and there were absolutely no survivors. That much was clear.
So, everyone waited. John desperately wanted to be outside, anywhere but in Vickie’s apartment. He understood the job that they had been given was exceedingly important, knew it intellectually. But his heart and his gut wanted to be on the ground, in the thick of it, taking the fight back to the enemy. If only he didn’t have the constraints that had been placed on him…he just needed someplace to push the dagger, and then he would destroy whatever enemy they faced. Whatever enemy he faced, whoever stood against–
A Seraphym uses the least power to the most impact. The needle of a laser, not the bludgeon of a sledgehammer. He brought his head up to see that Sera had turned away from the window to gaze solemnly at him. Power is not ours to waste, beloved. We may not be Seraphym, but we are still constrained by the same laws. If we waste what we are given, or use it unwisely or with poor judgment, it will no longer be given to us.
John took a deep breath, then exhaled it slowly. The mind-to-mind communication had been weird at first, but he was starting to get the hang of it. He knew it was useless to try to hide anything from Sera, but he still tried to calm himself, mask some of the darker…whatever he had been feeling before she had brought him back to Earth. I know, darlin’. Just gets to be…frustratin’, bein’ cooped up in here while our friends are out there.
Vickie semi-staggered out of her Overwatch room and paused, one hand on the wall. “Um,” she said. “For the benefit of those who are not telepathically attached at the hip, want to use your vocal cords? ‘Cause I can tell you’re talking.”
“Sorry, Vic. Just practicing, I guess. Unlike my better half, I’m still new to this sort of stuff.” He stood up from the couch, brushing Sera’s cheek with the back of his hand as he rose. “Anyone need tea or coffee? I figure it’s ’bout that time.”
“Any way you can give me eight hours of sleep in eight seconds instead?” Vickie asked hopefully.
John thought for a second, then looked to Sera. “No, but…”
Sera smiled slightly. “I used to help Bella when she was healing, with something she called ‘angel juice’–which sounds terribly wrong, somehow. As if someone was putting me in a blender….”
Vickie actually managed a chuckle at that. “Seraphym! Will it blend?” she said.
“I think John and I can manage a…less intense version, together,” Sera continued.
“An’ then we’ll definitely need coffee. You up for tryin’ it, Vic?”
“So long as it doesn’t involve zapping me into a wall again, absolutely.” She ran a hand through her hair, which looked dry and lifeless. “We’ve got everyone that escaped from Metis their papers and into hiding and–”
John held up a hand. “Time for a battery recharge, first. Tell us when we’re done refillin’ your tank.” He paused, thinking. “I guess there isn’t a way for us to describe this without soundin’ dirty, is there, love?” He looked to Sera, wriggling his eyebrows. She giggled, and held out her hand.
This is simple. Just as we did with Pavel–without having to turn our power into plasma first. He nodded, and took her hand, following her lead.
For him…for them…well, it was easy. Like sharing the warmth of a fire that they were all huddled around, but that he and Sera could turn up or turn down at will. It was an abstraction of what it really felt like, but it was all so complex, and that was the best way that he could think of it. He and Sera both willed for that fire to ramp up, for the heat to spread outwards from them and into Vickie. Not too much; it was more of a gentle caress than a shove or even a tap.